Walking the streets of Hawley, or any other old town, it is easy to overlook the great changes in landscape over the decades.


Walking the streets of Hawley, or any other old town, it is easy to overlook the great changes in landscape over the decades.
This had been the domain of the Native American, who were mostly departed from these virgin woodlands by the 1770’s.
Hawley Borough sits on the border with Pike County. The tree-lined hill seen behind the Hawley Silk Mill is part of the northern border of Pike. Marking the border is the now mostly dormant Wallenpaupack Creek, its placid falls lapping the rocks behind the old mill.
When the first late 18th century settlers arrived, this creek was a powerful, cascading river. They quickly saw this as a great advantage for power, and a basis for a new village. Factories harnessing the mighty Wallenpaupack rapids sprung up. The tempest and torrent continued unabated except by nature’s ebb and flow.
It was not until 1926 that a new generation of inhabitants harnessed the same water source for industry, quieting the river but creating a lake- Lake Wallenpaupack. Pennsylvania Power & Light (today, PPL Utilities) initialed a new wave of economic opportunity for the region. Utilizing the lake for hydroelectric power, a bustling tourist economy gradually came to largely replace the age of factories that hummed in Hawley for over a hundred years.
Originally, the settlement we know as Hawley was referred to as Paupack Eddy, for the cascading water turning its great wheels.
Before there was a Paupack Eddy, however, there was a settlement that came to be known as Wilsonville, formed in the 1790’s in the area of what would be the site of PPL’s Wallenpaupack dam. At this stage, there was no Pike County. Wayne County formed in 1798 from Northampton County, and encompassed the entire region of Pike as well.  Pike was created in 1814. For a short time, Wilsonville was used as the county seat for Wayne County.
This hamlet was named for Judge James Wilson, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and a judge of the US Supreme Court. He owned 12,500 acres known as Wallenpaupack Manor, which he acquired from William Penn.
Wilson originally surveyed in the area of what became known as the Eddy section of Hawley Borough. He first built a grist and saw mill just below Wilsonville, which was 70 feet high. In 1792, Wilson started to build a large factory for the manufacture of fabrics from flax and hemp.
The site of this factory was at the Eddy, and measured 40 feet square. The factory cost between $10,000 and $12,000.
The ground proved unsuitable for growing hemp and flax, and the project failed. Benjamin Kellam and others later burned the factory to make use of the iron.
 Prior to Wilson’s factory, Reuben, Alpheus and Alexander Jones and a sister known as widow Cook, settled below the mouth of the Middle Creek. Reuben was captured by the Indians shortly after the battle of Wyoming in 1775, but escaped by outrunning his captors in a friendly race. Other early settlers included Elisha Ames,  Benjamin Haines and Robert Hanna, the last who erected a mill. In 1810, Joseph Atkinson arrived from Kimbles and went to work at the same mill, now owned by George Neldin.  At that time the only residents in the settlement were Neldins, the Joneses and an African American man named Prince Rose and his wife, a former slave, who lived in a hut across the Paupack River. In 1812, the Atkinsons had a child, John - the first white child born in the settlement. In 1820, Neldin set up a large frame house and used it for a tavern.
Joseph Atkinson purchased the mill in 1821.
The first recorded marriage in Paupack Eddy occurred in 1824, when Elizabeth Atkinson (Joseph’s daughter) was married to Dan McFarland. Soon after the Joneses arrived, a road was from Wilsonville to Paupack Eddy. Trails connected with it from other settlements, connecting the scattered settlers with Bethany and Milford.
Several more families had settled on the east side of the Lackawaxen River- where Hudson Street (Route 590) is found. It was in this neighborhood that the first store was opened by Jonathan Brink, in 1827.
The town had not yet expanded west of the Middle Creek where we find today’s downtown.
 Other stores came as well. Brink’s store catered to the lumbermen, who were rafting logs from the mill at Paupack Eddy down the Lackawaxen. These logs were taken down the Delaware River with other rafting traffic that had become a prosperous industry.
James Wheeling opened a private school in 1822, in Brink’s log houses, at the Eddy. He had about a dozen pupils. Paupack Eddy began to grow as a village when the Delaware & Hudson (D&H) Canal Company was constructed in the 1820’s, coming down from Honesdale. The Canal Company began operating in 1828.
Irish immigrant laborers needed to dig the Lackawaxen section of the canal were housed in a barracks at Paupack Eddy on the east side. Drunken brawls were known to erupt between Irish and German laborers housed in a different barracks a mile away.
What was one a virgin landscape of tall white pine, was quickly taking on an atmosphere of industry and settlements. It was still another quarter century before the busy Pennsylvania Coal Company would construct its gravity rail system here, and another era of development would be launched.
What would be known as Hawley was fast becoming a thriving town.
A principal source was History of Wayne, Pike & Monroe Counties, Pa. by Alfred Mathews (1886).